Delamination on 1986 Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-23-2009, 06:35 PM   #1
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Ann and I have a 1986 17' Bigfoot rear bath. We've owned it for about a year now. Of that year we fulltimed 5 months, though 3 of those months were in one place with full hookups.


We love the lifestyle. We are taking the summer off to travel while fuel prices are down, intending to visit the Maritime Provinces and work our way west to British Columbia.

That is to say, we were. A couple of issues with our trailer, which we call Patience for good reason, are holding us up just now. I'd love a bit of advice. Pardon me for being long-winded but I'd like you all to know what I know from the get go.


Issue #1

All four sliding windows leak, not from the seal between window frame and fiberglass but through gaps between fixed and sliding panes, created by the shrinking of the wiper. The tracks fill with water that eventually spills into the cabin. Though I have cleaned the weeps with a 12" pipe cleaner, they do not drain quickly enough to prevent overflowing of the tracks. Additionally, all of the soft parts of the window assemblies have become, to one degree or another, rigid with time. Some of them are downright brittle. There is no visible water damage from this leaking.

This is a problem I know can be fixed, but not by me. I'm not particularly handy. The manufacturer, Sun-View Industries in British Columbia, still exists and for a reasonable fee is willing to completely rework the windows so they are like new.



Issue #2
The real problem is with the curbside side wall of the trailer. See photos at

Delamination

This issue just surfaced a few days ago as we began our big adventure. I noticed a ¼" gap had developed between the galley assembly [fridge/sink/furnace/range] and the interior wall of the trailer. This led me to the exterior, where I noticed that the side wall below the galley window was squishy—it had some flex to it unlike anywhere else around the belly band. The fiberglass is firm, it just moves in and out with pressure from the heel of my palm.



I opened the curbside refrigerator access panel located just below the side-wall mounted refrigerator vent [no refrigerator vent on the roof]. Sticking my head inside and looking up to the top of the refrigerator compartment I could see some water stains. Whether the source of the water is the refrigerator vent or the leaky window I am not sure.


Inside the refrigerator compartment all of the wood seems sound with the exception of the sheet of interior paneling, which is coming apart. Still, as a unit the fiberglass/interior paneling appears to have pulled away from the galley assembly.


From inside the cabin I stuck my head in a cabinet door of the galley assembly. All of the wood and interior paneling I could see, and I looked everywhere with a headlamp and a mirror, seems sound and I can see no water damage.


q Is this separation of the side wall from the galley assembly considered delamination?

q Though I can find no punky wood, some may exist unseen. Am I likely to incur BIG $ for repair to replace any punky wood and reattach the sidewall to the galley unit? We love our little trailer but at some point we would be better off looking for another one.

q Should I care? Is this just cosmetic and I can fill the gap with caulk and toodle down the road?



Thanks loads for your thoughts.
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Old 05-23-2009, 06:55 PM   #2
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If I understand your description of the trailer and the problem then it sounds like the interior cabinet has simply drifted from the sidewall a little bit?

I can not get your picture link to work.

On my Fiberstream there seems to be no actual connection between the inside fixtures and the walls of the trailer except where they attach to the floor.
This has caused the exact thing I think you are talking about to happen for me.
Because there is no part of the galley touching the inside of the outer wall it will flex when pressed on from the outside.
This also causes it to look "wavy" or crooked along the sidewall without the interior fixtures to keep it all in line.

Some trailers have all Fiberglass interiors and they are glassed to the walls(Trillium) others have fiberglass fixtures riveted and screwed to the walls(Scamp.Casita) which should prevent this.
From what I have seen the Bigfoot is like the Fiberstream and the fixtures are stickbuilt and not attached to the walls.

I also don't think solid fiberglass can "Delaminate" as you put it because it is not laminated in the first place it is molded.
I have certainly seen trailers that had laminated walls but I don't think yours is one of them.

Again I can not see your pictures so I am not sure but I suspect you are talking about a normal wear occurance?

Ed
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Old 05-24-2009, 07:51 AM   #3
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Ed,

Thanks for the input. So sorry for the problem with the photo link. Try this: Delamination

Indeed the galley is stick built and a separate unit from the side wall. A vinyl gasket runs the interface between the two at the countertop. It could be that the galley has moved, but it appears that maybe the side wall has slumped?
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:12 AM   #4
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I don't think it's you that is not getting it. I tried posting the link and it turned my at into [at] hmmmm, I don't know! But I know if you copy his link then paste it into your browser and then Change the[at] to at it works. His pictures come up.


Tim, I am going to leave the answers to the experts, But I suggest that you chaulk it for now, enjoy your trip. As long as it is not a safety issue! Then when you have the time restore it, you should be able to find the right solution to make the repairs and have a great trailer. Your question about is it going to cost big bucks? Naaa, not as much as a new trailer and if you guys love this one it's worth the fix. There are many here who have done full restorations and I am sure they will have answers to guide you thru the issues. Again, quick fix for now and enjoy you trip. Robin
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:18 AM   #5
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I think if I remember right we can't link to that type of site. I may be wrong, but I remember reading it somewhere so heres you pics Tim.
Attached Thumbnails
tim5.jpg   tim4.jpg  

tim3.jpg  
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:31 AM   #6
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Tim
As I said that is exactly what has happened to my Fiberstream because the inside and outside are not really attached along the wall.

I think you are probably correct that the wall has slumped as without real support the weight of the roof and time conspire to help this occur.

I have spoken at length about this with Fred and other members of the groups and there seems to be a consensus about this.

That said I do not think it is anything to worry about at all.

I have devised all sorts of plans to correct it and try to prevent it from coming back but all seem to involve attaching through the hull to the inside somehow.
To me this may be more problem causing than solving so I am just letting it go for now.

On the Fiberstream it is the most pronounced at the entry doorway where the doorway is not really a true rectangle anymore and the door fits funny because of it.
The roof bears down there with the least resistance as the opening is well....open.

I think the really fix the problem the roof would need to be jacked up and into place somehow and then cracking might occur.
The trim on the inside was just to fill any gap and limit scraping of the fixtures against the hull. My gaps have also grown large like yours and the trim is attached from the inaccessable side of the counter tops so I can not really fix it easily.

There are several ways to seal the gap but just letting it be is also a solution.

Nice trailer by the way and congratulations it will be a lot of fun I am sure.

Ed
Most Fiberstreams seem to have this same issue.
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:35 AM   #7
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Heres the rest.....................
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tim1.jpg   tim2.jpg  

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Old 05-24-2009, 04:01 PM   #8
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Thanks, Ed and Robin. Likely what we'll do is just let it be for now. We were planning to put a couple solar panels on the roof, but if weight up there will aggravate the problem we'll wait on that.

Sorry about the mess with the pictures. I was just trying to save some space by posting the photos elsewhere.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
If the link does not work, try replacing [at] with the "at symbol" So sorry.
[b]As a Moderator, I will explain here that the Moderating Team has contributed to your frustration a little bit in order to keep the [b]entirety of the membership here safe from computer hackers.

Unfortunately, this safety means we have had to program this website to not recognize [b]and surgically remove all vestiges of the character we must refer to now as the "at symbol". It was the best solution we could find to fixing a thorny and frustrating problem.

Automated computer "bots" were harvesting anything containing that forbidden character, and sending out viral spam at an exponential rate faster than mere mortals could subdue it.

Please, post photos directly here, we have plenty of space for them here. Actually, we would prefer it if they were here, and not on some other site.

We now return you to your regular program...

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Old 05-25-2009, 07:41 AM   #10
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Let's try this again. Thanks to Frederick for the heads up on posting images. I have found a program that can compress the images to a total of less than 400k, so here they are all in one place. Once again, my apology for the difficulty everyone has had in linking to the photos.
Attached Thumbnails
Countertop.jpg   Curbside_view.jpg  

Gap_closeup2.jpg   Gap_closeup.jpg  

Inside_frige_compartment_looking_up2.jpg   Inside_frige_compartment_looking_up.jpg  

Interior_paneling_closeup.jpg   Refrigerator.jpg  

Side_wall_layers.jpg  
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Old 06-17-2009, 08:59 PM   #11
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Tim, just so you don't feel all alone.....our new to us 5th wheel started having the same problem this weekend on our trip. I know the seam between the wall and counter was tight when I scrubbed it a couple weeks ago. It's doing it on both sides, at the back end of the kitchen counter and at the little counter next to the fridge.

We are trying to figure the best way to fix it. At this point we are thinking of bolting through the belly band into the cabinets with some reinforcing added in some areas. This is in addition to the re curving of the flattening roof in the rear. I think we will make lemonade with our lemon!
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Old 06-17-2009, 09:17 PM   #12
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Attention, attention. If the site you're trying to link has the {at} sign, you can get around it by using a Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/create.php

I just did that for Tim's pictures on Flicker:
http://tinyurl.com/q4fagt

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Old 06-18-2009, 06:21 AM   #13
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Thanks for the solidarity, Lizbeth. A local RV repair shop advised us that repairs would not be cost effective, and that the trailer may survive years with the problem. We are still looking for a solution but not worrying so much.

You mentioned your roof flattening. Just so you don't feel alone, the front portion of our roof sags on either side of the fore/aft centerline. Not having seen another Bigfoot for comparison, we're not sure if this is the way they were made or if we have another problem. I've been up there and the roof seems strong.
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:08 AM   #14
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Issue #2 .........This issue just surfaced a few days ago as we began our big adventure. I noticed a ¼" gap had developed between the galley assembly [fridge/sink/furnace/range] and the interior wall of the trailer. This led me to the exterior, where I noticed that the side wall below the galley window was squishy—it had some flex to it unlike anywhere else around the belly band. The fiberglass is firm, it just moves in and out with pressure from the heel of my palm.........

q Is this separation of the side wall from the galley assembly considered delamination?

q Though I can find no punky wood, some may exist unseen. Am I likely to incur BIG $ for repair to replace any punky wood and reattach the sidewall to the galley unit? We love our little trailer but at some point we would be better off looking for another one.

q Should I care? Is this just cosmetic and I can fill the gap with caulk and toodle down the road?

Thanks loads for your thoughts.
If your delamination / separation would happen on the flat piece of fiberglass I would use the process called vacuum lamination. The area which needs to be laminated is sealed with a bag; catalyzed resin is pumped into the joint while vacuum is being pulled out. In this process air is evacuated from the joint and atmospheric pressure is pressurizing components together. Well, you don’t have a flat and accessible piece of fiberglass but if there is a way to feed epoxy resin directly into separated space and provide mechanical force to joint components together during resin polymerization the end result could be almost as good. Use of multiple feeding tubes into this separation area and low viscosity epoxy resin Epoxy_from_West_Marine would assure full resin fill. The mechanical force could be applied by placing braces inside the trailer and forcing the fiberglass into the original shape from outside. This could be messy but I am certain rather permanent.

Just food for thought,

George.





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